Slow Travel… edit from Caroline Bologna
In the rush of day-to-day life, we don’t always have the opportunity to slow down and move at our own pace. Even on vacation, there’s an urge to visit, do and taste as many things as possible in a new destination or multiple destinations.
I’ve heard countless times how exhausted people are when they come back from their vacation and feel like they ‘need a vacation from their vacation,’ and that’s because many times we pack so much into a very short amount of time. We want to see everything, do everything, and not waste a minute.
There is, however, another approach to globetrotting that many seasoned tourists recommend: slow travel. But what exactly is slow travel, and how do you take full advantage of this kind of trip? Below, travel experts break it down.
What exactly is slow travel?
Slow travel is about quality over quantity. It is also about immersing yourself in the local culture. Traditional vacations often involve seeing as many things as possible in a short time. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can feel very superficial. It can also feel overwhelming and not like the ideal relaxing vacation.
As the name suggests, slow travel generally entails slowing down and savoring each moment, rather than rushing to check off bucket list items.
Slow travel may mean different things to different travelers, but I define it as staying in one place for longer and going deeper into the local culture. It’s taking the time to make real connections with locals versus jam-packing a schedule full of tours. Slow travel doesn’t necessarily require long stays in one place.
Slow traveling isn’t necessarily about the number of days you are spending in a place. You can slow travel with just a few days or with a few months ― it all depends on the level of connection you would like with your destination, allowing you to gain a deeper appreciation of the culture and understand the local environment better.
Slow travel is a meditative approach to traveling that allows people to stop and smell the roses ― quite literally.
It’s about being fully present in the moment and experiencing the sights, sounds and sensations around you without distraction ― letting the experience unfold at its own pace and without expectations. Slow travel doesn’t have a strict definition or certain mandatory elements, such as using slower modes of transport or sticking to a single city or country for a certain amount of time, but rather is about the compassionate awareness one brings to being a visitor in a destination.
Slow travel is a more mindful approach to tourism that fosters deeper connections.
What are the benefits of slow travel?
When you travel at a slower pace and not so rushed, you naturally immerse yourself in the culture and place that you’re in and really try to get to know it on a more personal level.
You talk with more locals and do more ‘off the beaten path’ activities, and not just things you see on Trip Advisor. Also, when you do start to talk with the locals more, usually they want you to have the best experience and will show you some of their favorite spots which naturally leads to a more immersive and personal experience. A local guide can also help in a local experience.
Getting to know locals and their culture and lifestyle more intimately and authentically will create rewarding experiences and memories you can carry with you long after your return home. You may even make deep connections and friendships that lead you to return in the future.
If you want to really unplug and relax without the stresses of traveling, then slow travel may be for you. You get to unpack your suitcases less, take fewer planes, trains and automobiles and just relax in a destination.